I Stayed At Hotel Emma And I Was Actually Blown Away. This Is Why.

I’ve stayed at a lot of beautiful hotels in my life thus far. (Actually, it seems like my bucket list is just getting longer…there are some gorgeous hotels opening up in Texas right now!) And the Hotel Emma in San Antonio was one of those “dream destinations” that took me a while to justify. Eventually, my husband and I booked a 2-night stay that was a combo of a birthday present - slash - anniversary trip slash just a chance to get away because my sister volunteered to watch my kids for a few days. And I’m here to tell you the Hotel Emma was probably the most amazing hotel stay I have ever experienced. Here’s why. 

Hotel Emma

(PS: I swear that this isn’t sponsored in any way. I paid full price for this hotel stay and Hotel Emma has no idea I’m writing this. I just want to share this gem with you in case you’re considering staying here!) 

Hotel Emma

5 Facts About Hotel Emma In San Antonio

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page about this hotel, here are a few tidbits about it. In case you’re new to San Antonio. 

1. Hotel Emma was built in a renovated historic brewery.

The Pearl Brewery opened in the 1800s and functioned as a brewery until it officially closed in 2001. So then there was this huge, gorgeous building just sitting there in the middle of San Antonio. Developers had the genius idea to renovate the entire building and turn it into a luxury hotel, complete with an entire shopping and dining district surrounding it. Say hello to Hotel Emma.

Hotel Emma Lobby

2. This is a very expensive hotel.

If you’re looking for the prettiest hotels on the riverwalk, you’re not going to find anything more expensive than Hotel Emma. Rooms start at about $500 per night and go up from there. (That’s not counting taxes and fees, parking, and gratuity.) So you can plan on spending a minimum of $1400 on a 2-night stay at this hotel.

Hotel Emma room

3. Hotel Emma has 146 rooms.

This is not a small boutique hotel!

4. There are 3 places to eat and drink in the hotel.

Supper is their all-day restaurant, Larder is their artisanal grocery shop with coffee, wine, grab-and-go food, and other fun things to buy, and Sternewirth is the cocktail bar. And then you can simply step outside the hotel and explore the dozens of places to eat and drink at The Pearl.

Supper at Hotel Emma

5. Hotel Emma is located on the riverwalk.

But it’s not at the Downtown Reach location of the riverwalk. It’s further north in the Museum Reach, which is a quiet and peaceful portion of the San Antonio riverwalk.

The Hotel Emma Experience

My husband and I pulled into Hotel Emma’s gravel parking lot on a warm spring afternoon. A valet attendant immediately greeted us, asked us if we were celebrating anything special (“our 7th wedding anniversary!”), and called over a fellow hotel staff member to get our luggage out of the car. Since we arrived a bit early, our room wasn’t quite ready, but we were told we could meander over to “the library” for our welcome cocktail. 

Library at Hotel Emma

Um, a welcome cocktail? Yes please! There were actually two options, which were prepared by a bartender who stood post at a small cocktail bar inside the library.

Welcome cocktail at Hotel Emma

The 2-story library inside Hotel Emma is exactly what it sounds like: an actual library, stocked with a curated selection of historic and modern books on the types of things that make a person about 10% more interesting. Books like city planning, the culinary arts, and American poetry. The types of books I aspire to read but - let’s be honest - will only ever read when I’m on a vacation and have exactly zero responsibilities.

Library at Hotel Emma

Our room was ready a bit early, so we took the elevator to the third floor where our luggage had been deposited into our room.

The window overlooked the riverwalk where children were running around and a man was sitting playing his guitar. The wind was blowing softly outside, the sun was shining…and it simply felt like the start of a wonderful weekend.

View from Hotel Emma room

Hotel Emma’s rooms are full of all sorts of trinkets and such. They’re mostly antiques, or at least uniquely sourced and somewhat hard-to-find. Because of this, they offer pretty much everything in the room for sale to guests. (Yes, really! Even things like the waste baskets, the hand towels, and the decorative art was for sale. I’m accustomed to seeing bathrobes for purchase in case guests want to slip them into their luggage, but a tiny table lamp? New to me!)

Hotel Emma bath tub

The standard bathrooms at Hotel Emma are massive! In addition to a private water closet (toilet) and a large shower (with excellent water pressure, I might add!), each room has a luxurious soaking tub. The lush robes and thick bath mats and yummy-smelling toiletries made me feel like I was staying at a spa.

Hotel Emma bathroom

Every detail of the hotel is fabulous. Literally every interaction I had with a hotel staff member was superb. They truly make you feel like they are elated that you’re staying at the hotel, and they’re willing to jump through any hoop to try to make your stay absolutely perfect.

For example: Hiatus Spa is conveniently located near Hotel Emma, and you can book a service directly through the hotel. I didn’t though (because #LIFE) but when I arrived, I thought, Hmm, a nice manicure sounds like a great idea! But, of course, they were totally booked. People apparently book these things 3 weeks in advance…

So I spoke with the lovely concierge, who made a few phone calls, waited on hold for a while, pulled some strings, and voila! A gel manicure for me, and a 60-minute massage for my husband. She was able to get us appointments for the very next day. All the while I just sat there in the astounding hotel lobby (that somehow always smells so good) and sipped my complimentary welcome cocktail. 

Sternewirth Cocktails at Hotel Emma

Hotel Emma Location

So this is truly why I think this was the best hotel stay of my life. I was trying to think of other hotels I’ve stayed at that have this number of high-caliber restaurants all within walking distance, and I couldn’t think of any!

I mean, I love staying at a hotel on South Congress or downtown Austin, but with those, you have to walk through traffic or across several blocks (maybe a half mile?) to get to certain restaurants.

Cured at The Pearl

Hotel Emma is located at The Pearl, which is a 100% pedestrian-friendly district with just SO many great restaurants! We ate at Cured, Mon Chou Chou, Bakery Lorraine, Jazz TX, Local Coffee, Southerleigh,  Larder, Sternewirth, and Supper, but I also wanted to enjoy about 12 other restaurant meals. (Alas, you can only eat so much during a 2-night stay at Hotel Emma.) 

Jazz, TX at The Pearl

I absolutely loved this location! I mean, I know about so many fun things to do and amazing places to eat in San Antonio….and I literally didn’t get in my car and drive at all during this hotel stay. I was just enjoying walking everywhere!

I love the fountains at The Pearl and the live music on the lawn. I think Jazz, TX is the coolest little underground speakeasy. I’m obsessed with the coffee at Local, and the pastries at Bakery Lorraine. I went into a cool little boutique and found a gorgeous handbag to buy for my sister as a thank-you gift. I had the best manicure of my life at Hiatus Spa. Why are you so freaking amazing, Hotel emma?

Hotel Emma Pool

Just to reiterate, I paid for this experience!  None of this was comped or hosted or discounted. Hotel Emma isn’t paying me to say any of this. (They don’t even know I’m writing it. But, um, Hotel Emma, if you want to ever give me a free stay, I wouldn’t say no! 😉 

This hotel is just so, so lovely.

As the hotel getaway was wrapping up, I was walking around the Pearl District with my husband reflecting back on the amazing mini vacation. “I’m trying to think of any hotel stay in my life that I’ve enjoyed more than this one, and I’m coming up blank,” I told him. 

Even though I love doing frequent staycation at pretty hotels, I don’t know of any others that are in a place where you can just waltz out the front door and have a pedestrian-friendly district that’s packed full of fun places to eat. (My husband and I were like kids in a candy store! So many choices!) I truly can’t think of a better spot for a gorgeous boutique hotel. 

My one complaint about Hotel Emma is this: it is SO VERY EXPENSIVE. I mean, I understand that hotel prices have risen a lot in the last few years due to inflation, but the final bill for this 2-night stay was astronomical. 

But since Hotel Emma is typically booked out in advance, there must be enough demand that they can justify the price. It just makes it difficult for a lot of people to be able to experience this amazing hotel. 

I think if rooms were closer to $400 per night, the price would seem a lot more reasonable. That’s still an expensive hotel stay, but it’s more of a “this is a splurge but I’ll do it” instead of “this is the most insane amount of money I’ll ever spend on a hotel.” Does that make sense? 

But I’ll also say this: despite the cost, I absolutely will make sure that I stay at Hotel Emma again in my life. 

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